By Cameron Gonzales
Hello New Mexico! With Summer in full swing, it’s easy to get comfortable on the couch watching Hulu and Netflix. It’s also easy to forget how lucky we are to be surrounded by the beautiful landscapes that define New Mexico. In this article, I hope you find inspiration for some fun weekend trips to just a few of our natural wonders. If you do decide to visit any of the following parks, make sure to tag us in your social media post @SantaFeToday for a chance to be featured on our Instagram page! This article will be part of a Summer Fun series, so make sure to check back for more weekend plans!
1.THE SAPHIRE WATER AT THE SANTA ROSA BLUE HOLE
The Santa Rosa Blue Hole is a 60 foot deep water hole just east of Santa Rosa. This rare sight amid the desert of New Mexico promises beautiful, clear water, always at a brisk 62 degrees. Entrance to the water hole is free, and within a two hour drive of 80% of New Mexicans! Come here for family fun, to get scuba certified (they also offer scuba diving if you are already certified for only $8), or just for a quick dip into a desert oasis on a hot day.
Nearby at Park Lake you can enjoy Wibit, an inflatable playground with slides and trampolines for only $5. If you’re more in the mood to relax, you can rent paddle boats and explore the lake with your kids and friends. And if neither of those are your forte, make sure to check out nearby Perch Lake, where you can either fish or scuba dive! There is fun for everyone in this wonderful water haven.
2.WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT: THE LARGEST OF ITS KIND
Nudged between the cities of Alamogordo and Las Cruses, White Sands National Monument is the largest of its kind. With 115 square miles of accessible sand dunes and several marked trails, the monument is a breathtaking oddity that begs to be explored. The white sand that makes the park so unique is made of gypsum, and because of its makeup and color, the sand doesn’t easily absorb heat. This makes it safe to walk through the dunes barefoot without burning the soles of your feet!
You can choose to explore the monument by yourself on one of the four marked trails, or you can participate in a ranger-guided nature walk offered in the summer. If you want to have a fun photoshoot with friends and family, make sure to bring your sleds and have Christmas in July by climbing one of the large dunes and riding your sled to the bottom!
3.ENDLESS EXPLORATION OF UNDERGROUND CAVES AT CARLSBAD CAVERNS
Carlsbad Caverns is one of the worlds largest underground cavern systems. With more than 119 caves to explore, you won’t regret the drive just 18 miles out of the city of Carlsbad. Admission is just $15 for ages 16 and older, with children allowed in for free! Guided tours of the underground caves start at an additional $7 for adults and $3.50 for children, and go up to $20 for adults and $10 for children (depending on the cave). Each cave is around a one mile hike, with the hike to the main cave (the Big Room) being relatively flat.
You can’t have caves without bats, and the shows these creatures put on are breathtaking! In the early evening, visitors can watch the night flight of the bats as they leave to gather food. The optimal time for viewing is right around the corner through July and August, the time in which the bat pups finally join the adults on their flight. There are also pre-dawn viewings, where observers can watch the all the bats return home to the caverns.
At night when the stars come out, make sure to catch a star party put on by the park. There, rangers will guide informational programs and navigate you and your family through the night sky with the park provided telescopes. At all hours of the day, there are natural marvels to behold at the amazing Carlsbad Caverns!